No Time to be Frightened

This is the third of four stories about the So Cal wildfires from the Los Angeles Times
 
 
FACING THE FLAMES | Amy Berling
 
 
When fire threatened their home in Fallbrook, Amy Berling and her boyfriend, Glenn, grabbed a few belongings and drove to his brother’s home in south Escondido. They went seeking refuge, but soon found themselves face to face with the flames.

"It was just me and Glenn," Berling recalled. "His brother, his wife and their two children left for Del Mar. His brother has asthma and sometimes has to use the oxygen. His brother said he was glad someone was staying with the house.

"We got here Sunday or Monday. It’s hard to keep track of the days. Before we came here, I remember seeing the clouds. They looked like rain and I said, ‘Oh, look, honey.’ We turned on the radio and the news was saying, ‘Stay off the road,’ ‘Don’t go to work,’ ‘Don’t take your kids to school.’ "

They took surface streets to the brother’s house, which sits at the end of a cul-de-sac and faces open scrubland on two sides.

They left a few times for groceries, hoping to ride out the crisis. A police officer warned them after one trip that they were reentering the area at their own risk.

"On Tuesday, there was so much smoke. I saw the flames off in the distance, and my boyfriend said, ‘Hey, don’t worry. It’s going to go that way. It’s going to pass us by.’ "

The fire had other ideas. It closed in on the yellow ranch house. Berling, 39, confronted the blaze from behind a chain-link fence.

"I’ve never been in a fire before. I’ve never seen anything like this. The flames were 10 to 15 feet high. It didn’t make any noise, really. It was quiet, just quiet. I could feel the heat and smell the smoke.
Not Frightened
"The flames were right up to here," she said, pointing to the fence, "and they were getting closer and closer, and the smoke was getting blacker and blacker and thicker and thicker. I was kind of looking around thinking, ‘What do I do now?’ "

She doesn’t remember being scared.

"I was, maybe, uncomfortable. Uneasy. I had the van backed up to the house and I had the laundry and everything in there, and we were ready to go. But I was going to stay as long as I could and use common sense when I had to leave.

"I was like, ‘I’ve got to do something. We can’t just do nothing.’ I thought we could at least save the house and I said, ‘We’re going to save this house no matter what. I’m going to get the hose out and we’re going to do this, this and this.’

"So that’s what we did. I got the hose and tried to make a wet barrier.

"There were about three or four firemen. They had oxygen masks around their necks, and they were geared up. They’d parked in the driveway and asked if they could drag their hose through and around the property. The firemen were calm, and that helped me stay calm.

"I was out here for 20 or 30 minutes hosing when there was more black smoke and flames. I thought, ‘If I’m going to be out here for another two or three hours, I’d better put on a mask.’ " She found one in a utility shed beside the pool.

"Then the firemen told me that was enough hosing. ‘Turn it off, turn it off.’ I listened to what they said, and I went ahead and got inside and out of their way. I don’t know what else they did, but the fire stopped just before the gate here at the backyard."

Her own home in Fallbrook had survived undamaged, she learned later.

"I try to be a helpful person. Just the feeling of helping or trying to help was a good feeling. It was worth it."

martin.miller@latimes.com

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14 Responses to No Time to be Frightened

  1. Angie says:

    Bob,
    You are finding the most touching brave stories ever. Bravo on you and your heart that you open up! thank you-

  2. Shannon says:

     
    Bob,
    Thanks for sharing with us.
    Stay safe,
    ~Shannon
     
     

  3. KatSoup says:

    It is nice to hear of someone who saved thier home.  Such sad stories everywhere.
     
    Now that is a good song choice.  I adore Toby Keith.  What a hottie!

  4. Lena says:

    "I try to be a helpful person. Just the feeling of helping or trying to help was a good feeling. It was worth it."
     
    If there were more people like that, oh, what a wonderful world this would be.  Thanks again for another inspirational story.
     
    Take care!

  5. Steve says:

    Kudos to you and all out there for letting all of us knows the stories coming from California.  We get one story a day from TV and cable.  Thanks.  Peace 🙂

  6. Steve says:

    Kudos to you and all out there for letting all of us knows the stories coming from California.  We get one story a day from TV and cable.  Thanks.  Peace 🙂

  7. Steve says:

    Kudos to you and all out there for letting all of us knows the stories coming from California.  We get one story a day from TV and cable.  Thanks.  Peace 🙂

  8. Isabelle says:

    Well, that’s a LADY!!! Yes her courage and determination should inspire us all!!! Yep, Lena Wayback what a wonderful world it would be if everybody could behave this way always……
     
    Thank you Bob for sharing that heart touching story. I am waiting for the next one with impatience!!!
     
    Big hugs,
    Take care,
    Isa
     

  9. CAROL says:

    HI Bob.. yes thanks for these wonderful uplifting stories.. It still shocks me to know that one of the fires was started by a 10 year old. JUSt can’t believe it.. It was an accident they are reporting but a 10 year old with matches should KNOW BETTER!!! They shoudl take him on a tour of all the places that were burned to see just what the consequences were.  I heard that one house was completely saved just because they left the fire extinguisher on on their property.
    AMAZING stories..  take care .. have a great weekend..  : )

  10. Isabelle says:

    Hey Bob, just popping in…… to read a 10 years old boy wanted to set a fire?? OMG where are parents? Thanks God they caught him before the fire was lit up!!!
     
    I hope you are ok!
     
    Take care,
    Isa

  11. Isabelle says:

    Argh! He did?!! OMG I don’t want to sound alarmist but I think THAT KID needs to be treated…. I mean if he did that once he will do it again! No matter if he sees the devastation he caused… he may actually get a kick out of it and start again!!!!
     
    That’s so sad, but it does reveal something worst than the fire he lit and the devastation he caused! So sad……
     

  12. Twila says:

    Bob-
    Great stories.  Thanks for sharing some of the ‘good’ stuff.  Just goes to show ya that people are basically good and the bad always brings out the good in everyone.  Well, most everyone.  BTW, thanks for the 1977 JC Penney catalog.  How funny!  I laughed so hard the tears were rolling!  🙂

  13. Cindy says:

    Hi Bob,
    Amazing stories, thanks for sharing them with us.
    Thank you SO much for the Birthday card, I love it! so cute!
    Don’t you worry about missing my b-day….You’ve had a lot on your mind.
    Take care my swwet friend and thanks again.
    ((((Hugs))))
    Cindy

  14. Greg says:

    Hi Bob,
     
    Truly amazing stories and pictures.
     
    I would have stood my ground as long as I could too.
     
    May the coming rains be light until the vegetation can regrow.
     
    Have a nice weekend, Greg

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